Core strength refers to the combined strength of the abdominals and the muscles that support the spine. Building core strength is important for running because it improves our posture and causes less strain on our bodies. If we have weak abdominals our back muscles often compensate in order to maintain an upright running stance. This can lead to aches and pains in the lower back and an imbalance in our running stance. With a strong core we are able to keep our torso stable while we run and avoid unnecessary twisting of the upper body as we move through our stride.
Strong abdominal muscles and core strength are also vital to maintaining breath control when we run. In my post about breath control, I explained that it takes more abdominal strength to control our exhalations while running than our inhalations (due to the fact that the body’s physical position while running encourages inhalations). Accordingly, core strength allows us to expel the breath completely, leaving greater room for oxygen to flood into the body as we inhale.
Here are three postures to improve your core strength, so you can finish your runs upright and (hopefully) smiling!
1. Boat Pose
2. Side Plank
For more ways to "yoga your running" check out seven postures to stretch and strengthen your running muscles.
Photo credit: lululemon athletica flickr stream